The Vancouver Canucks made it a Californian sweep by shooting down the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 Sunday night at the Honda Center just over 24 hours after beating the Los Angeles Kings; the back-to-back wins are Vancouver’s first in nearly a month.
Cory Schneider stopped all 26 shots against to record the first shutout of his NHL career in just his 17th start, while Manny Malhotra scored two goals, including the 100th of his career, and Daniel Sedin added a single for the rejuvenated Canucks.
The emphasis was on a hot start and Malhotra was happy to provide it by beating Dan Ellis a mere 42 seconds into the opening period. Jannik Hansen and Raffi Torres were both in on the goal as Vancouver’s checking line hit the scoreboard for the second straight game.
Sure they can hit, but when push comes to shove, the trio can also produce offensively.
“We’re definitely going to have to be a big part of this team’s push come playoffs, the fourth line as well,” said Torres, who is five assists off his career-best.
“We’re just having some fun out there, Hansen is playing some good hockey right now and Manny’s obviously playing great right now, we’re just keeping it simple, getting pucks deep, nothing flashy, just going out and playing hard.”
Much like the start of the first period, the Canucks again pounced on a hapless Ducks squad early in the second and again Vancouver’s third line was in on the action.
Malhtora pressured Ellis as he attemped to play the puck behind the Anaheim net, but the Ducks netminder was able to poke it to Cam Fowler. Some miscommunication saw Fowler dump the puck to no-man’s-land where Hansen nabbed it and centered for Malhotra, who snapped home his second goal of the game, this time 17 seconds into the frame.
That was essentially all she wrote for the Ducks as Vancouver was able to play its game for the rest of the night and walk away with its eighth win in the second of back-to-back contests.
The Canucks are now 35-2-6 when scoring first, outlining the premium of a solid start.
“That was one of our points of emphasis tonight was to get out to a good start and put the pressure on them and we did a good job,” said Malhotra, who will have to wait at least one more game for his first career hat trick.
“The past couple of weeks we’ve gotten away from that a little bit and kind of wandered our way into games and obviously it hasn’t been working for us too well. We’ve gotten back to the things that made us successful, being aggressive on forechecks, getting turnovers, getting pucks in deep and we didn’t get as many shots as we would have liked to tonight, but we made the ones count that we did get.”
The Canucks were outshot 26-16 by the Ducks, but they were able to hold the fort and improve to 2-0-0 on their current five-game road trip thanks to another solid game on special teams. Vancouver has allowed just one power play goal in its last nine games and has erased 71 of 75 opponent man advantages, while the Canucks scored on the power play for the first time in 17 attempts finishing 1-for-2.
Overall it was simply a solid team win, backed by an even better performance by Schneider.
Ma and Pa Schneider had best clear some space atop the fireplace, there’s a shutout puck coming their way.
Schneider’s game was watertight in winning his third straight start and for the first time ever, he walked away with a shutout.
Although not overly tested, Schneider made key saves throughout the game stopping Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne in the first, Lubomir Visnovsky and Brad Winchester in the second and finally Getzlaf again, three times in the third.
Of the 26 Ducks shots Schneider faced, 11 came from Getzlaf, a Canuck rival. That’s the big juicy cherry on top of this performance.
“It’s nice to get your first one and you don’t have to think about it or wonder when it’s going to come, but in the end it’s all about winning this time of year and it was a complete team effort,” said Schneider, who was faced with a rare 3-on-3 late in the game with things getting mucky and players marching to the penalty box.
“I was holding my breath, it’s like shinny hockey, anything can happen,” laughed Schneider. “But the guys did a pretty good job of staying defensive for me and not trying to take too many chances and get points. They played great all night, I got lucky with a couple of posts and I’ll take it.”
Schneider becomes the franchise’s 30th Canucks goalie to record a shutout; overall it was the 124th onion in team history.
Daniel Sedin’s third period power play goal moved him three points clear of Steven Stamkos for the NHL points lead, yet he remains seven goals back of Stamkos for the goals lead; Henrik Sedin is 10 assists in front of Martin St. Louis in that category; Vancouver has gone seven straight games without scoring more than three goals.